Solar is already making waves in the developing world, proving once again how beneficial renewable energy can be for everybody. Developing countries have the awesome opportunity of skipping the smokestack revolution and heading straight into clean, sustainable energy. One of the latest in that vein of innovation is the hybrid diesel-solar powered refrigerator.
Developed by Promethean Power Systems, this stand-alone refrigerator system runs on a combination of diesel fuel and 180 Watt solar panels. While this makes it only partially renewable, as Treehugger so aptly points out, there is nothing preventing biodiesel from entering the picture and making it 100 percent clean. Yet this is a big step. While the only refrigeration option people living off-grid have now are expensive diesel generators, Promethean’s hybrid refrigerator would cut operation costs by 66% as it stands now. This is monumental for people who cannot even keep supplies such as milk, fruits, and vegetables fresh long enough to use them.
The refrigerators, which use thermoelectric cooling as opposed to Freon, will be tested in rural India in 2009. Promethean, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company, recently received funding to get their innovation off the ground. They say that thermoelectric cooling could supplant vapor-compressor refrigeration but cooling efficiency is low and limits projects to a smaller scale. We’ll have to keep an eye on this one!